Planning standards-based mobile 5G deployment late this year
AT&T on Wednesday announced its plans to deliver mobile 5G services based on the forthcoming 3GPP 5G New Radio (NR) standard in “more than a dozen markets…by late 2018.” According to the company, the mobile service will leverage existing network infrastructure that supports its gigabit LTE offering, which the company refers to as 5G Evolution, as well as pre-standard 5G fixed wireless trials for both residential and enterprise use cases.
Chief competitor Verizon had previously announced its intent to deliver residential broadband and other services using fixed wireless 5G in the second half of this year.
AT&T’s 5G Evolution service is available in 23 metro areas including Atlanta, Boston, New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Houston. This service delivers faster mobile speeds using 4×4 MIMO, 256 QAM and carrier aggregation. In addition to the spec-compliant mobile 5G, AT&T said it would grow the 5G Evolution footprint to “hundreds of additional metro areas.”
The fixed wireless 5G trials began in Austin using pre-standard equipment, and expanded to Waco, Kalamazoo and South Bend. Those tests proved out use of millimeter waves to deliver residential and enterprise use cases to multiple-dwelling units, small businesses and education customers.
“5G will change the way we live, work and enjoy entertainment,” said Melissa Arnoldi, president, AT&T Technology and Operations. “We’re moving quickly to begin deploying mobile 5G this year and start unlocking the future of connectivity for consumers and businesses. With faster speeds and ultra-low latency, 5G will ultimately deliver and enhance experiences like virtual reality, future driverless cars, immersive 4K video and more.”
Arnoldi mentioned latency, a key feature of 5G. To that end, the carrier noted the role of edge computing, which distributes compute and storage to place equipment and services closer to the end user, in its larger strategy.
Highlighting the comprehensive nature of 5G networks–think of it as a converged network of networks–AT&T called out other network improvements including Licensed Assisted Access, deployment of fixed wireless in largely rural areas, continued build-out of fiber assets, G.fast, a technology that increases transmission speeds over existing copper cabling, and Project AirGig, which leverages electric infrastructure to deliver high-speed broadband.